Children are not eating right these days because adults are not eating right! children ‘see’, children ‘do’.
Also, parents, today feel that homemade can be replaced with ‘made at someone’s home’!
Children are eating too much of food with ‘additives’ chemicals that increase the shelf life of food, deplete the neurons in the brain. Also, junk food is being used as ‘bait’, ‘bribe’ to do a lot of things and thus comfort food becomes an addiction at an early age.
How do we fix it?
We need to help parents understand that when we say that 98% of the brain develops in the first five years, so does the foundation of health. So what you feed your child in the first 5 years will create the physical foundation of your child’s future health and will define the child’s future diseases like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The choice is simple, “what would you like to gift your child?” I don’t think parents need any other incentive to feed healthy food to their kids!
The dining table is a place where an instant battle can take place between an uncooperative, unwilling eater and an aggressive feeder. But the golden rule to remember is that “Food should not chase the child!”
Most experts advise against force-feeding kids. To which most parents respond, “But doctor, my child does not eat anything, how will he become healthy?” Experts say that children will eat when they are hungry so instead of forcing them and constantly chasing them with a spoon in your hand, just leave them alone and they will happily eat when they are hungry.
- Never force feed a child as this will only make him throw up or cause a tummy ache.
- Don’t try to make him hungry, to fit into your routine! Just because you want to watch an interesting program on TV today or are tired and want to sleep early you cannot force the child to eat. Understand that your child may not be hungry at your time as his tummy clock has been set to the daily routine.
- Don’t give your child snacks at odd times in between meals even if they are hungry. This will spoil the routine and kill your kid’s hunger. Once these snacks are stopped your child will automatically feel hungry at meal times.
- Storytelling to woo your child to eat is a good idea but to avoid scary tales, as this may affect digestion. She may get frightened and not be able to chew the food well. Remember when fear is induced, adrenalin is secreted and blood supply will be redirected elsewhere in the body and hence digestion will suffer. Digestion starts right from our mouth, where the enzymes present in the saliva in our mouth start the process. So if a child does not chew his food adequately, he will throw up or have a tummy ache.
- Never threaten or frighten a child on the dinner table.
- Try and eat with your child. Apply the method of, “I will eat one spoon and you eat one too.” Or “I will feed you and you feed me.”
Try to make eating a fun event by using the following ideas:
o Arrange food in the shape of a car or a castle and say, “Here is a food cake, so now let’s see what does ‘little Yash’ wants to eat first.”
o You can also create an imaginative outer space, and say, “We are on the moon, or the stars” and name the food accordingly.
o Tell the child that he has come to eat in a kiddie’s restaurant and you act as the waiter or arrange the food in the form of a car or airplane and let the food zoom and fly in.
These tactics may lure your little one into eating even the dullest of foods.
Dr. Swati Popat Vats
Parenting Mentor and Coach